(This post is also available to read and discuss at Hockeybuzz.com)
The Anaheim Ducks are coming off a nice 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night and the attention of the team and fans should be on the remaining nine games and what seeding the Ducks will have as they enter the Western Conference Playoffs. But instead all the talk has been about Chris Pronger and his alleged stomp on Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler.
On Thursday the NHL announced that there would be no discipline and that was that. But then the NHL found out that Abraham Zapruder was at the Pond at the time of the game and that he has some new footage of the incident from an angle previously unseen! Now the case has been re-opened and a hearing has been scheduled with Pronger, the NHL and the surviving members of the Warren Commission. No word yet on whether or not they are investigating the “Magic Skate” theory.
Many people have compared this to the incident earlier in the year in which Chris Simon stomped on the foot of Jarkko Ruutu and received a 30-game suspension. The difference that people are forgetting is that Simon’s occurred during a stoppage in play and Ruutu was not doing an impression of Antonio Inoki (look it up). Kesler was without a doubt trying to keep Pronger from being able to skate up ice by holding Pronger’s right foot between his legs. Pronger, once he finally gets his foot free, appears to give Kesler a kick/stomp on the lower leg.
Someone very wisely decided to go and find out what Chris Simon himself thought of all this and after waiting around for over two hours outside of the Islanders locker room waiting for Simon to come out they were informed that Simon now “plays” for the Wild. After a quick trip to Minnesota we finally got to hear what the NHL’s most disciplined player had to say:
“It would be nice to have things treated fairly, at least. I don’t think in that instance it’s fair at all. I couldn’t believe right away that nothing was going to be done about it. I still can’t believe it. I watched the tape and I think the tape’s self-explanatory. It shows what he did. It’s more disappointing that I can get the amount of games that I get and the player never misses a shift, and other players can hurt players. And then the same thing, if not twice, happens in the Vancouver-Anaheim game and there is not even a review. It is decided there is no suspension.”
Conventional wisdom is that a suspension will be coming and an announcement is expected within the next day or two. If Pronger is suspended it will be the eighth time in his 14 year career.
I saw a poll on TSN.ca asking fans if they thought that Pronger deserved to be suspended. Amazingly 93% of those that voted said yes. That poll wasn’t exciting enough so they changed it to “How many games should Pronger be suspended for?” Oddly 86% believe it should be five games or more! Of course, asking Canadians (which includes a lot of fans of both the Canucks and Oilers) to vote on this incident is like asking Al-Jazeera viewers if Israel should be recognized as a country.
I’ve seen the incident from both angles and have even seen it re-enacted via interpretive dance to the theme from Arthur and after analyzing it over a nice bowl of lobster bisque – yes, Pronger deserves to be suspended in my opinion. How long? I don’t know. That’s for the league to determine after hearing from Pronger and I’m not privy to those conversations. That being said I think a suspension between four and 10 games would be fair.
There’s little doubt that Pronger intentionally kicked at/stomped on Kesler (and there’s little doubt that Kesler should have been called for interference) and the league cannot tolerate players intentionally hitting opponents or officials with their skate blade. Thankfully Kesler was not hurt on the play or else the TSN polls would be debating which province Pronger should be hung in.